What do you get for your niece and nephew when you’re the coolest aunt in the world? Why, handmade teddy bears, of course! It’s a project that has been six months in the making and now the bears are finally wrapped up and flying across the sea to reach the little ones in Ireland in time for Christmas. Now, I’m not saying that it took me six months to actually sew the bears – the making part is quite a simple process (thanks to the new teddy bear pattern I used) – it was all the planning that went into the project that took some time and I’ll tell you why.I wanted to make a keepsake teddy bear for each child, so I wanted them to be personalised in some way. When I first opened up the pattern I could see that it would be easy to make the pattern pieces fit into items of my niece and nephew’s clothing. What better way to make a personalised gift, and to upcycle old clothing at the same time, than to reuse their baby clothes to make them a teddy bear? I asked their parents if they had any of their tiny outfits left, and luckily they did. I asked for non-stretchy items (which are easier to sew) and it wasn’t long before a bag of baby clothes arrived. I got the newly launched Charlie teddy bear pattern from Amazing Craft and studied the instructions from front to back before getting started. There’s only a handful of pattern pieces and the construction seemed so much more straightforward than bear patterns I’ve used in the past. I was eager to get started and see just how the pattern worked. I’m pleased to report that this is the most simple-to-use set of instructions, and having fewer pattern pieces meant much less tacking, pinning and fiddling. I whizzed up the arms and legs in no time at all. The body is the only piece that has any darts in it, and even then there’s only two small darts so it’s really uncomplicated to construct. I guess the pattern does what it says on the cover – it truly is ‘bear making for beginners’ and it couldn’t be easier to follow. It’s available as printed instructions (which I got, at £6.99) or as a digital download to print at home for only £4.99. The little trousers were the perfect base to make the arms and legs of the teddies – the linen fabric wasn’t at all stretchy and I could make a feature out of the details on the trousers. I positioned the pattern pieces so that my niece’s bear would have the spotty trim from the trousers around the outside of the paws, and my nephew’s bear has tiny pockets on the legs. I could even reuse the lining of my nephew’s trousers to make a soft inner arm, and I added little monster designs from his tiny t-shirt to make contrasting paws and feet. I used a floral baby-grow to make the insides my of niece’s bear’s arms and even the bears’ ears have a patterned underside. I wanted the bears to be safe for the little ones to carry around, so I got some safety eyes and plastic safety joints from Amazing Craft. This means that the head, arms and legs are poseable and the eyes can’t be bitten off because they pop together and clamp into place. In fact, I couldn’t even get the joints apart again if I tried! My tip for using these is to get the position of the arms and legs right first time, because you won’t be able to take them off again if they’re in the wrong place, so double-check the position before pushing the joints together. Soaking the joints in hot water for a minute will make them a littler easier to pop together. The plastic joints are also safe to go in the washing machine, which is good news because we all know how mucky kid’s teddies get!
Yesterday, I had some amazing news. The kind that shocks you so much – in a good way – that you can’t speak and simply point to your email when your husband asks “what’s happened?!”. You watch his expression as he reads through the message, looking to spot the moment when he too realises, and confirms what you didn’t believe with your own eyes, that you’ve won. Yes, I received one of the most amazing emails of my life yesterday when Hillarys got in touch to tell me that I was the winner of their Craft Competition 2015. Gobsmacked is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt last night! I still can’t believe it.You may remember that I shared a blog post about my little Red Ted last month. I loved every moment of making him, and, although I had a couple of unpicking-and-restitching hiccups, he was a fun project that got me back behind the needle of a sewing machine after a few months without crafting. It’s kick-started a whole host of craft ideas and I’m skipping towards my sewing machine almost every day now to do mini-projects and clothing repairs. All thanks to Red Ted helping me get back in the saddle. Only a week ago I was told that my little Red Ted had made it into the top ten shortlist of Hillary’s Craft Competition and I absolutely couldn’t believe it – especially when I saw all the other fantastic creations on their competition board on Pinterest. I’d checked out the other entries after submitting Red Ted and I was in awe of all the amazing projects that the other crafters had come up with – cushions, aprons, toys, picnic set, clothing and even fabric flowers! I’m already planning to try out some of these projects myself but the board is so packed full of inspirational ideas that I don’t know where to start! During my week as a ‘finalist’ I’d spotted a few repins of Red popping up on my Pinterest feed, and some ‘likes’ had been appearing on Facebook. I was thrilled that other people liked Red Ted as much as I did and every tweet of support meant the world to me. Even though I was getting a lot of love for Red, all the other shortlisted projects were amazing, highly skilled and really fun, so I was convinced that Red and I were going to be applauding another winner as the results were announced.So you can imagine just how much I couldn’t believe it when I found out that I’d won. I read and re-read my email. I double checked the announcement on Twitter. I took to Facebook and every update I saw seemed to confirm that little Red Ted was the winner but it was only when I was being hugged by hubby that I realised it was true and I burst into tears.I am thrilled and truly grateful that the lovely judges and so many of you liked my creation enough to vote for me as the winner of Hillarys Craft Competition 2015. It means everything to me, and little red Ted is pretty chuffed too! Thank you all so much for supporting ‘us’ in the competition, and cheers!
This week I’ve been crafting away in my caravan and have enjoyed a couple of happy afternoons of cutting, sewing and painting (more on that project soon!). Today’s post is all about the latest addition to my soft-toy family; a cute little teddy bear named Red. There’s something about summer that makes me want to be creative. I think that being outdoors more often helps me be inspired by the things that I see and I end up taking hundreds more photos at this time of year; flowers, animals, landscapes, the beach and, of course, ice creams! Can you see any resemblance to a seaside deck chair in my little creation??Even though I love being cosy inside my caravan in the winter, it really comes to life in the summer. It’s always so lovely to get outside when the weather is nice and throw open the windows of my caravan to let a soft breeze flow through as I sit at my sewing machine. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this week.I wanted to join in with the Hillarys craft competition this month and have been totally inspired by all the amazing creations on their Pinterest board. My mind whirred into action when I saw the gorgeous fabric choices on offer and an image of little Red ted appeared in my mind immediately. I quickly ordered a metre of the Hatti Raspberry striped fabric and set to work cutting out the pattern pieces for my little bear. Continue reading “DIY sewing project – My little red ted” »
I think that I’ve undeniably smashed through the sewing block I wrote about earlier this month with all this project. For someone who wasn’t really in the mood to sew at all, I’ve certainly put my all into making this teddy bear for my niece’s christening gift! I did the whole project on one morning, rather than over the course of a few weeks (on and off) when I made a blue teddy bear for my nephew’s christening. and my sewing session was really enjoyable. I didn’t turn on my computer at all that morning, because I knew I’d get lured in by emails and Facebook if I even opened up my laptop, so it was a lovely break from technology too.
I gathered everything together before I started, which saved time because I usually have to go hunting for something – buttons, thread, stuffing etc – half way through the project and it puts me off my stride. This time, I kept everything together and set to work cutting out the pattern pieces. This was SO much easier now that I have a rotary cutter and cutting mat (from Wholeport) because I could just trace around the pattern shapes so easily and the fabric just came away from the edges, even when I was cutting through two layers at once! I remember the pattern cutting task being quite laborious last time, so I was pretty smug with myself as I sliced through the fabric and stacked up my pieces in no time.
Having already constructed one teddy bear in the past, I didn’t bother with the instructions as I began sewing, which proved to be a big mistake: I ended up sewing two left arms, oops! After a bit of unpicking and resewing I was back on track and kept an eye on the instructions from then on. Even though I was using the same fabric for the body of the bear, I’d decided to make it different by using pink gingham for the feet, paws and ears, chosing grey wool for her nose and mouth, and I used white wooden ‘Old Story’ buttons from Wholeport to join the legs and arms to the body. To make the arms and legs moveable I attached them using wool that went all the way through the body of the bear and out the other side, so the wool went through the layers like this: Left button – left arm – body – right arm – right button and back again. This means that the limbs are attached to the body but can be twisted up or down so that the bear can sit, stand, wave etc.
As she’s a girl bear, I decided that a pretty gingham bow would be more suitable than the scarf that the first bear wore. I also machine-embroidered a gingham patch saying ‘handmade with love’ to attach over the join on her back, which I hand-stitched onto the bear with a running stitch around the edges. I hope my niece likes the bear as she grows up (she’s too little to play with it at the moment because of the eyes and buttons) and even if it’s just an ornamental bear, I’m pleased that I was able to make it for her myself and I really enjoyed the process.
The theme for September’s Inspiration Challenge was bears – based on this cute image of 3 antique bears. We were challenged to make anything inspired by this theme and Abakhan Fabrics were kind enough to sponsor the challenge with a prize of this cute floral sewing kit:
1. I made this teddy bear for my nephew’s Christening gift earlier in the month, so my part of the challenge was all finished by mid-September, which makes a change because I’m usually finishing something off at the last minute! I shared my progress in this blog post during the month, and here’s a photo of the finished teddy below. My nephew nearly didn’t get him as a gift because, by the time I’d finished stitching the bear together, I’d loved it so much that I didn’t want to give it away! But I thought of my one-year-old nephew and godchild and realised that he’s love it as much as I did as her grew older (it’s not for playing with right now, because of the small parts!) so I packed teddy up in a straw-lined box and handed him over. I was very careful not to name it, because then I’d get even more attached!
2. Katy from Etsy store Ella Betsy Boo turned her hand to cross-stitching and created this cute little bear motif. She sent me a sneaky-peek preview of her project during September and here is a photo of the framed finished artwork. I am always so impressed with cross-stitch because it’s such a time-consuming craft, that takes a lot of patience and you only really see the result at the end. I’ve often wanted to have a go at cross-stitching, but I’ve not yet taken the time to learn how to do it, and even if I did I think I would lose heart half-way through! So a great crafty make from Katy this month – well done 🙂
How are you getting on with this month’s inspiration challenge? The theme was antique bears and I’m so excited to see what everyone will come up with – maybe a cross-stitch, a greetings card, scrapbooking page, drawing or anything else crafty or stitchy!
I’m delighted to say that my favourite haberdashery shop Abakhan.co.uk are sponsoring the inspiration challenge again this month and the prize up for grabs is this handy vintage-inspired sewing kit in a gorgeous floral case below. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize from Abakhan, please send me photos of your teddy bear projects before 30th September to email@example.com and the winner will be picked at random (using Random.org)! I’m not judging the projects, so it doesn’t have to be the best item you’ve ever created – it’s just for fun and to see what you can create from the ‘antique bears’ starting point.
I’ve been cracking on with my make already this month (I’m usually a bit last-minute with my projects!) and I’m making a bear for my nephew. It’s his christening next week, so I will need to have completed it by then in order to give it to him as a gift! I got a bear-making book out of the local library and photocopied the patterns in the book, but when I started making the bear, I realised it would be a bit too small so I scaled-up the pattern (in a very haphazard way by drawing a line around the outside!) and I’ve started making the limbs! I’ve used a striped cotton that I bought from the Preston Abakhan store when my nephew was first born last year and I’ve added little blue gingham paws and feet pads! It’s still a work in progress so I’ll show you more during the monthly Inspiration Challenge roundup when the little bear is finished. 🙂
Don’t forget to email me with your projects – good, bad or indifferent! – whenever you have finished them and in the meantime check out Abakhan online for all kinds of fabrics, hobby and craft goodies!
More Inspiration Challenge articles:
- See all Inspiration Challenge articles (cassiefairy.com)
- What we made in August and new theme for September (cassiefairy.com)
- My beach hut cushion + the Inspiration Challenge (cassiefairy.com)
- A special prize from Joanie’s Gifts for July’s Inspiration Challenge (cassiefairy.com)
- A beach hut inspired story by author Amanda Addison (cassiefairy.com)